As requested: A recap on the 4th trimester with my 4th baby!
THREE TO FOUR
MY EXPERIENCE: For the first two weeks of Woody’s life I had my mom here for one of them and went solo the second week. After a pep talk from Russ I accepted any and all help and owe a lot of people thanks. (Pantone Thank you postcards for the win!) Any meal, any offer of service, and visitors.
Then Quarantine gave me the best gift. As a lifelong productivity junkie, being given permission to slow down (to a halt in a lot of areas) was AMAZING. Of course it was hard and scary and lonely, but I am choosing to focus on the good things. I felt zero FOMO because no one else was doing anything either! I didn’t feel resentful if someone didn’t come because they couldn’t come! I rested and relaxed and healed because that was all that was required of me. I could focus on Woody and getting him acclimated to life instead of rushing around delaying his cues, and tossing routines + schedules to the wind.
I don’t intend on having any other babies, but now knowing what actual rest looks like I would 100% attempt to recreate it again. The boys have had so much time with him and they are all so bonded and tight-knit because of it. I feel like they’ve all really learned the ins and outs of caring for a baby and that will benefit them so much in adulthood.
REAL TALK: Raleigh’s transition was HARD. He is the actual apple of all our eyes and the center of all our attention. He is SO loved and so me losing hours and hours a day to nursing, rocking, burping really effected him. He loves Woody, but he acted out in other ways. Started throwing tantrums for the first time ever! Regressed with potty training (peed in the dryer, WHY) and had a lot of heartbreaking moments. One day we both sat on the floor and held each other and bawled after he accidentally kicked the baby during a hard moment. I begged him to forgive me for turning his world upside down and he asked me if I loved the baby more #shattered. I had to remind myself often that this would help shape Raleigh in a way that nothing else could and the adapting wouldn’t last forever.
Personally, I had several really intense and overwhelming moments of utter loneliness. I felt totally broken and despairing having no answers about Covid-19 and feeling jipped that my perfect plan (having three kids in school, two of them full time) so I could have breaks and give them all my best instead of feeling totally run ragged and spread thin with all of them wanting me or needing something 24/7. Trade-offs, right? I truly think overall it was a gift.
ADVICE FOR YOU: If you can eliminate as much of your to-dos and where-to-bes as you can, 3 to 4 is so much more enjoyable. Getting to school, appointments, activities and trying to care for a new baby is what makes life with four hard, in my opinion. You don’t get a medal for seamlessly adding a baby into the current state of things. You have to create a new normal and don’t feel badly for a second if you have to break your old life a bit in the process. Just for the first few months hold off on sports, lessons, and anything extra you’d have to show up, prepare, or facilitate for. If you can’t, arrange a carpool and set up playdates out of your home(!) with friends before the baby even comes. Allow people to serve and help!
SUPPORT WHEN YOU CAN’T BE “THERE”:
I’m sure this changes depending on your love language (mine is quality time), but for me, having my friends and family text me demanding pics of Woody literally: “NEED PICS OF WOODY!!!” made me feel supported and cared for. Their over-the-top reactions to how big/cute/sweet he was, or their frustration at not being able to see him meant so much to me. Sometimes even “How are you?” felt overwhelming because I didn’t have time to even type a response or keep a conversation going. But I could shoot off pics no problem.
I had a lot of neighbors drop by little + big things like homemade bread, presents, or a treat. Asking if they could pick something up at the store for me, one heart attacked our door, another asked if they could give my boys a ride somewhere. Now that Prime is back to 2-days shipping little gifts or treats are so easy. If you can’t show up in the form of a meal (our town doesn’t have door dash anyway) or a visit, quarantine really opened my eyes to other ways I can help new parents that I hadn’t thought of before.
Besides the usual suspects “sleep when the baby sleeps” etc,
- Hands are hard to come by!! Make sure you have a place to set the baby down in all your most-used rooms of the house. Bouncers, play yards, plush carpet, bassinets, whatever. Solly wrap or an Ergo with an insert were used often around here.
- Freezer meals. Just do it. When the meals die off and that 5 pm circus hour hits you’ll be so glad. 4th babies might not get a party or shower, but freezer meal parties should be a thing. Everyone brings one and swaps recipes. I am a genius.
- Give yourself regular breaks and things to look forward to. Don’t wait until you snap to ask for/demand one. Be proactive! It doesn’t need to be a production and it shouldn’t feel stressful or guilt-ridden. A walk with a friend, a treat run, sleeping in. Put in on the calendar every week!
- Have a real come to Jesus talk with your partner and your other kids. The workload of 4 kids is more than any one person should ever do. Everyone has to step up, do more around the house, take on more responsibilities and sacrifice a bit. Unload whatever you can and do not feel bad for a second.
If you’ve made it this far remember, you’re likely having 4 kids because you want a big family. You want your kids to have lots of siblings, you want a full home with the fun, bustling chaos. When they’re all grown it won’t feel like a lot of kids anymore. My siblings are the best gift in my adulthood, it will ALL pay off!! You have most definitely got this and you’re made of tough stuff.
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